[lit-ideas] "Roughly speaking" (Was: Wittgenstein)

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 20:40:49 EDT

In a message dated 5/25/2004 7:51:02 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
Henninge@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
Beiläufig gesprochen: Die Gegenstände sind farblos. (Wittgenstein,  original)

Roughly speaking: objects are colourless. (Ogden, trans.  [1922])
There is a sense in which objects are colorless. (Nichols &  May,
One might say that obects are colorless. (Mutton  editions, trans. [2004])
In a manner of speaking, objects are colourless.  (McGuinness & Pears,
Dicho sea incidentalmente, los  objetos son incoloros. (Munoz & Reguera,
trans. [1973])
Soit dit en  passant: les objets sont incolores. (Pierre Klossowski,  trans.
Detto approssimativamente: Gli oggetti sono incolori.  (Amadea G. Conte,
trans. [1964])

More of this may  follow.
Okay. So apparently, 'roughly speaking' was Wittgenstein's  choice for the 
English translation of the German expression  'beilaeufig gesprochen'. 
Surely 'there is a SENSE' (the second translation listed by Henninge) is  not 
really equivalent to 'roughly speaking' (and why should it be?). But  then 
I'm never sure how to use the word 'sense'. To me, 'sense' applies to  _words_ 
only -- so what _word_ is this 'sense' attached to? Possibly  'colourless'? So 
Nichols and May are saying that 'colourless' has at least two  _senses_? (And 
thus that 'colour' has two senses?) And that one is literal while  the other 
is figurative? Come to think of it: maybe to say 'there is  a sense...' does 
not really _entail_ there is more than one sense -- only  deafultly impicates 
(e.g. "There is a God...", "there is a country ...  [whose queen is Elizabeth 
One might say "One might say" is fine -- and I'm glad R. Paul calls this  
'parenthetical', a la Urmson ('Parentheticals').
"A manner of speaking" (Hennige's fourth translation of Wittgenstein's  
tricky idiom) echoes, to me, Grice's "manner maxim" -- and applies to _style_.  
possibly raises, less dangerously, the same problems that 'there is a sense'  
does. What is the _other_ manner of speaking being implicated  here? Is there 
a manner of speaking in which objects are colourful?  Which?
Now, Wittgenstein's original is ambiguous (to me) -- to start  with: the 
'besprochen' can apply to the "objects" -- "roughly, objects can  be _said_ to 
colourless" --, or, as Davidson would have it, it can apply to  the _whole_ 
clause following the ":" (Roughly speaking: objects are  colourless).

ps. There is an interesting essay by G. Nunberg (this relates  to J. 
Krueger's post) in Horn/Ward, _Handbook of Pragmatics_ (Blackwell). This  is 
listed as 
'in print' in Nunberg's site, but it's already out. 

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